USAID-Funded Project Helps St. Kitts Withstand Climate Change Impacts

Farmers and residents in St. Kitts and Nevis are better equipped to withstand climate change-related impacts including extreme droughts and flooding following the implementation of climate-smart technologies under the USD$9.5 million “Rallying the Region to Action on Climate Change” (RRACC) Project in the OECS. The program was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented by the OECS Commission.

Addressing a close-out ceremony for the St. Kitts segment of the project on Wednesday, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS, Laura Griesmer, said approximately USD$1.4 million in assistance was channeled towards building climate change resilience within the twin island’s water sector.

Ms. Griesmer told the gathering that St. Kitts and Nevis receives too much rain during storm events at certain times of the year and not enough throughout the rest of the year, which results in threats to individual livelihoods as well as to key sectors of the economy. She said the four-year RRACC project in St. Kitts included conservation measures to combat the issue, including water audits and usage assessments.

In addition to implementing water-efficient solutions, citizens took pledges to reduce water use, resulting in valuable water savings in 2015. In Nevis, a master drainage plan was developed and the island provided with an early warning system to track floods through the installation of a Flood Early Warning and Data Analysis Station. This included the installation of four flood monitoring stations in vulnerable areas and one central data analysis hub.

“The flood early warning stations in Nevis and the water efficiency measures in St. Kitts are examples of climate-smart approaches that other countries in the Caribbean region are embracing as a means of climate change adaptation,” Ms. Griesmer said. “By working together to develop and implement climate-smart practices, we will ultimately help improve crop viability, ensure food security, and reduce related risks in the face of increasing water scarcity.  These efforts will build the long-term sustainability of Saint Kitts and Nevis’ water sector, and your environment and national economy.  Most importantly, this work helps communities to withstand drought and improve flood protection, which ultimately enhances the country’s resilience to negative impacts from a changing climate.”

In pledging the U.S. Government’s continued commitment to supporting climate change adaptation in the region, Ms. Griesmer expressed confidence that project beneficiaries would share the lessons learned with other stakeholders to foster improved resilience for all.